NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
No detaining journalists - Says Shk. Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
ABU DHABI — SEP. 26: His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, issued yesterday a directive to the relevant authorities not to detain any journalist because of his journalistic work.
This was announced by Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the National Media Council (NMC), who stated that Shaikh Mohammed had issued his directives to the organisations concerned not to imprison any journalist because of journalistic task, emphasising that there are other procedures to be taken in case of a certain violation by any journalist but imprisonment is not included.
He added Shaikh Mohammed had issued his directives to the cabinet to speed up its steps towards issuing a Press and publication law in light of amendments made by NMC in collaboration with relevant panels. Shaikh Abdullah commended the initative of Shaikh Mohammed which reflects his deep belief in Press freedom and manifests his due care for journalists and means to provide them with the best working environment that enables them to carry out their mission efficiently. - Wam
A welcome move
THE directive of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to the authorities concerned not to detain any journalist because of his journalistic work is highly commendable and should be widely welcomed by the local and international media in the UAE.
The directive reflects Shaikh Mohammed’s deep commitment to promote a highly progressive society in the country. This acknowledgement of the Fourth Estate will give it a new status and impetus and help it to serve society better. The initiative shows maturity and good governance.
The Press, however, while being given this mandate must also be equally aware of its responsibilities of free, fair, accurate and impartial reporting of news events.
The directive, which was announced by Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the National Media Council, comes at a time when the country, which has developed into a modern entity and is the envy of the world, urgently needs to streamline its Press and Publication law.
The proposed amendment to the printing and publishing laws would be a model for other states in the region to follow. There should be a fair balance of media rights and responsibility although the best professional standard is a self-regulatory mechanism.
Dubai rents could fall in ’08
DUBAI — SEP. 26: Dubai’s residential rents, which have been on a relentless rally over the past five years, will start declining next year for the first time in a decade as more than 60,000 new housing units come into the market, analysts said.
The rate of increase of rents has already begun to slow. According to EFG-Hermes, Egypt’s largest investment bank, the decline in the pace of rental rate growth observed in the first eight months of this year will sustain into early 2008.
Residential rents across Dubai increased on an average by 16 per cent in the first eight months of this year compared to 30 per cent for the whole of 2006. This trend of slowing rental rate increases, according to analysts, is mainly due to a relief from Dubai’s seven per cent rent cap.
Predicting that the rent cap for 2008 will most likely be reduced to five per cent, an analyst at EFG-Hermes said the decline in the pace of rental rate growth observed in the first eight months of this year, therefore, expected to continue into early 2008, with rents starting to decline in 2008 as new housing comes onto the market.
Revising the bank’s housing unit supply forecast for the next three to four years, the analyst, Sana Kapadia, said due to a far slower pace of project handovers, only 11,000 units or 20 per cent of the expected 57,000 units are coming onstream in 2007 — meaning that supply continues to lag behind demand.
But in 2008, the supply will surge to 64,000 units, and 68,000 in 2009. “Based on the assumption that the population of Dubai will rise to almost 1.9 million by 2010, up from 1.4 million currently, demand now calls for 45,000 to 50,000 new units per annum.”
This means, by end- 2008, supply will outpace the demand.
EFG-Hermes also predicted that a fall in residential property prices, expected to happen in 2008, will now be delayed until 2009. “Supply in the residential property market is and will continue to be constrained in 2007. We predict that the peak year for supply will now be 2009. The market is unlikely to see a price decline before this occurs,” the analyst said.
According to market analysts, rents for luxury housing will fall at a faster pace as end-user demand for mid-income housing is higher than that for luxury housing, which has dominated delivered supply to date.
On the other hand, in the commercial property segment, rents and prices will continue to rise due to capacity limitations. “As Dubai continues to attract businesses from across the globe, we have seen continued pressure in terms of both rents and selling prices of commercial property over the past eight months. “Vacancy rates of around one per cent, in addition to pent-up demand from existing businesses and new tenants wishing to upgrade office premises has allowed rents to rise 40 per cent year to date on average. Prices for freehold office space have risen 17 per cent year to date.
“This trend of a sustained increase both in terms of rents and selling prices stems from a prolonged lag in the completion of new commercial supply.”The analyst said with most of the commercial space additions expected to hit the market in 2008 and 2009, she expects to see a marked decline in rents. “As a result, we expect to see Dubai commercial property yields sliding back gradually toward the international average.”
MoH offers incentives to staff for shedding weight
DUBAI — SEP. 26: The Ministry of Health's (MoH) campaign against the most prevalent diseases in the UAE, including diabetes and obesity, has revealed that 40 per cent of its own employees are overweight.
Dr Mariam Mattar, assistant under-secretary for public health and primary health care at the MoH said that the overweight staff of the primary health care department would have to shed at least 15 per cent of their weight within three months after which they will be eligible for incentives. "We will measure their Body Mass Index and metabolic weight, and based on the percentage of weight reduced, we'll offer them the opportunity to attend conferences and other incentives," she said.
Dr Mariam also revealed the results of a random survey carried out among MoH employees by the Central Department of Health Education. "We kicked off the campaign from the ministry itself so as to set an example for others to follow, but the outcome of the results have been a lesson for all of us," she said.
The campaign was held at the MoH in Dubai from September 9 to 13. During this period randomly selected 116 employees, including 44 women and 72 male staff were medically tested.
The survey revealed that 26 per cent of the employees tested were diabetic, 25 per cent had high cholesterol levels, 32 per cent had high levels of triglycerides, and 30 per cent suffered from high blood pressure.
Interestingly, 73 per cent of the employees tested for diabetes and found to be diabetic (22 people), had no idea that they had the disease. Likewise, while 80 per cent of those diagnosed with high blood pressure (28 people), were also unaware of their medical condition.
Dr Mariam said that the campaign had revealed the need for regular check-ups to control such diseases. "All health authorities in the emirates need to unite and spread awareness on how to prevent the spread of diseases such as diabetes and blood pressure," she stressed.
Sports’ big guns join Dubai Cares campaign
DUBAI — SEP. 26: Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, ex-heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson of the US and Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer will lead the support of the sports community to the global campaign ‘Dubai Cares’ launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, it was announced yesterday.
“We are still waiting for confirmation from French football legend Zinedine Zidane,” said Dr Ahmed Al Sharief, secretary-general of the Dubai Sports Council. Speaking to newsmen at the council offices, Al Sharief said the move comes under the directives of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, to bring together sportspersons from all over the world to interact with schoolchildren, local residents, young cricketers, footballers and communal groups, to further boost this humanitarian cause.
The programme will target the sports sector, including athletes, stars at the UAE, regional and international levels along with the general public.
The events, which started yesterday will continue till October 26 and culminate in a ceremonial dinner on October 22. At this dinner, gifts and memorablia donated by sportspersons will be auctioned off to support the campaign. These will include T-shirts, tools, rare coins, valuable shields, medals and photos from prominent UAE sporting figures as well as international sports celebrities.
A public auction will focus on leading personalities and strategic partners of the sports community, top officials and board members as well as international players and athletes, supporters, business persons, prominent families affiliated with sports clubs and officials of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare and the National Olympic Committee.
The programme will also include a football match featuring Dubai clubs
against All Stars on October 19. Arrangements have been made for the event in coordination with Dubai clubs to name their respective players.
Efforts are under way to invite the masters of the game from the Arab and international clubs to exhibit their skills. A bracelet of charity will be sold in coordination with the commercial shops in Dubai during the programme.
A special parade for children and junior players from the club’s training schools will participate in walkathon along the Al Mamzar Beach. Meanwhile, specific sports competitions will be organised for clubs, sports associations and companies targeting all sections of the society. They will include cricket and five-a-side football competitions for foreign communities as well as activities for private clubs such as the Aviation Club, Golf Clubs, Equestrian Clubs, Yacht Clubs, Sailing Clubs, Country Club and Motor Clubs.The closing ceremony will be held on October 26 during which the final figure of the amounts collected for the project will be announced in the presence of all participants. The amount will be handed over to the ‘Dubai Cares’ campaign to mark the contribution of the sports sector in Dubai.
Remember, sports unites people. Sportspersons care.
Drugs worth Dh13.5m seized in four stings
DUBAI - SEP. 26: Drugs with a street value of Dh13.5 million have been seized by Dubai Police in the past 10 days, an official said. More than 50kg of heroin and almost a tonne of hashish were impounded in four separate operations by the AntiNarcotics Department and 16 suspects were arrested.
The drugs were not intended for use in the country, said CID Director, Brigadier Khamees Al Mozainah.
“Due to the location of the UAE between the East and the West, drug smugglers use it as a transit point.They bring the drugs here in order to reexport them.
“The reason for this is that the UAE is not a drugs-producing country. People travelling from here are not looked upon as suspects and do not undergo major inspection procedures abroad.
“One common way of smuggling narcotics is by swallowing containers.
“Those coming from Asian countries cannot travel for more than 14 hours with the containers inside them, as there is high risk of their being poisoned if the drugs leak out. So they come here and recover the containers. They then swallow them again and travel to other countries.” The first drug smuggling bid was foiled on September 16 after police received information that a Pakistani man possessed 200kg of hashish, Al Mozainah said.
“We set up a trap and arrested him while he was exchanging the drug with a police source. During interrogation he confessed to having an additional 300kg of hashish buried in a garage in Ras Al Khaimah. We were able to recover the drug in co-operation with police there.” The second seizure was made three days later when an officer discovered drugs in the suitcases of two Afghan men.
“While searching their luggage we found 40kg of heroin filled in nuts. They were referred to the public prosecution,” he said.
The third case took place on September 23.
“We received information that an Afghan man has 250kg of hashish, which he wanted to sell for Dh13,000.
“We set a trap and arrested him while he was exchanging the drug with undercover officers in Al Hebab district. He confessed to having an additional 250kg of hashish hidden in Al Buraimi district of Oman. We seized the drug in co-operation with Oman police and also arrested nine suspects,” Al Mozainah said.
The next day police were tipped-off about an Iranian man who had 10kg of heroin that he wished to sell for Dh80,000 per kilogram. Again officers laid a trap.
Major fire breaks out in Jebel Ali warehouse
DUBAI — SEP. 26: A major fire broke out at about 1.30pm yesterday at a warehouse owned by Hadeed Trading FZCO in the southern area of Jebel Ali Free Zone. The warehouse was stocked with cotton and wood.
The Environment, Health and Safety regulatory arm of Dubai World, EHS, rushed eight firefighting units and 30 firefighters to the scene, and brought the fire under control. They were assisted by two firefighting units from the Dubai Civil Defence.
No casualties or injuries were reported as apparently there were no labourers in the warehouse when the fire broke out.
Investigations are on to ascertain the cause of the fire.
Nutankumar Manvatkar, vice president, EHS Fire Department, said: "The fire broke in the warehousing facility which contained cotton and wood. The firefighting personnel succeeded in preventing the fire from spreading to the adjacent facilities."
The firefighting units had managed to control the fire by 2.00pm and the cooling operation continued until around 4.00pm. The fire reignited at around 6.30pm for a while but was quickly doused.
"The heavy wind caused the flames to burst again. We are now following the 'exposure protection to the adjacent areas' process now. The firefighters are doing their job," said an EHS official.
152,375 exit passes issued
DUBAI — SEP.26: Around 232,635 applications of amnesty seekers were processed by the Dubai Naturalization and Residency Department until September 23, according to Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director of DNRD.
"We have regularised the status of 80,260 people and issued 152,375 exit passes so far. Of them, 110,834 persons have already left. The Follow-up and Investigation Section (FIS) in Jumeirah is still witnessing a big turnout of illegals who want to cancel their visas and leave the UAE without paying any fines," Brig Al Marri said.
"Illegals who wish to rectify their status can still do so but they have to pay the due fines. They could have spared themselves the penalties had they approached the FIS within the three-month amnesty period that was granted recently," Brig Al Marri added.
He said that illegals are received daily at the FIS from 9am to 2pm and from 9pm to 2am during the holy month of Ramadan.
"We have fixed our timings at the FIS to cope with the potential rush that might come up as a result of the shorter working hours during Ramadan," the DNRD Director said.
Sacked worker wins court case
ABU DHABI — SEP. 26: The Federal Supreme Court recently ordered a foodstuff company to pay Dh120,000 in entitlements to a worker whose services were arbitrarily terminated by the company.
The company was also ordered to pay Dh90,000 against the complainant's full wages since his dismissal in February 2005.
Technician R.Z., who worked in the company for 17 years, had lodged a complaint with the Labour Disputes Section in the Labour Ministry, alleging that the company had terminated his services without any valid reason.
During proceedings at the Labour Disputes Section, the company failed to send a representative to settle the matter. The case was referred to the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance, which ordered the company to pay the worker Dh120,000 as dues. The verdict was confirmed in the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal.
The matter was then taken to Federal Supreme Court, where the worker sought protection of his labour rights and insisted that the verdicts of lower courts be upheld. He also refused to go back to work in the same company. The apex court ordered the company to pay the worker's full wages since his arbitrary dismissal.
Masafi juices’ batch being withdrawn from shelves
DUBAI — SEP. 26: Masafi has started withdrawing a batch of its apple juice from the market across the UAE. This batch has the manufacturing date of July 10, 2007 and expiry date of November 9, 2007.
Masafi group's senior officials said their representatives were coordinating with the different supermarket chains for this and that the batch would be withdrawn within three days.
The move comes following the withdrawal of this batch of Masafi's apple juice from the market by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA). According to the ADFCA, laboratory tests had shown some of the 200mm juice packs containing mould and other residue. ADFCA officials said they had conducted the tests following complaints from some customers.
Natasha Edelnam, head of Marketing at Masafi said: "After the complaints came in, we had immediately started withdrawing the product from the entire UAE market. We are also closely coordinating with the authorities in Abu Dhabi in this connection. But then this is a small quantity (2,600 cases) and we'll be successful in removing them within three days. In the meantime, investigations are being carried out to ascertain the root of the problem," she said.
"We are always using the best of technologies and have received many awards for this. The matter will be looked into seriously. The losses incurred are only marginal."
However, when contacted, some supermarket chains in Dubai said they had not received any instructions from Masafi Apple Juice company till late. "We have not received any such instruction so far," said a representative of Choithram's supermarket. Senior officials of the Dubai Municipality said they too had not come across any instructions or communication from Abu Dhabi or the General Department of Municipalities on the matter.
Salem Mesmar, director of Public Health Department at Dubai Municipality said, "We have not received communication on this. In such cases, it is the companies that withdraw the defective products from the market even before we instruct them. But then we shall be discussing the matter and appropriate action will be initiated immediately."
Indian worker dies after falling from building
AL AIN — SEP. 26: A 35-year old Indian worker died on Saturday after falling from the second floor of a building under-construction in Mazyed area here in Al Ain.
The worker was shifted to Al Ain Hospital but he succumbed to his injuries within minutes of being admitted there. According to the doctors, he had suffered internal bleeding. An official of the Al Ain Police Emergency and Safety Unit (AAPESU) said the worker had slipped while working. His head hit a cement fence on the first floor as he fell downstairs, the official added.
"The Indian worker was working with an Al Ain-based contracting and general maintenance private firm," he added.
DNRD offers a fair deal to all its female customers
DUBAI - SEP. 26: Women-only sections are being introduced at the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department’s headquarters and at branches across the emirate. Women will be served solely by female staff in a move intended to boost levels of service and improve communication between the department and the public.
The new sections at DNRD offices will deal with receiving and processing visa applications from businesswomen, housewives and other female customers.
The new sections will also ease work pressure in crowded departments that deal with visa issuance for domestic servants and businesspeople in the Naturalisation and Passports Section.
The improved efficiency of female-only sections has already been demonstrated, said a spokesman.
The introduction of three women’s halls at the residency and entry permit sections resulted in better performance, productivity and customer satisfaction.
The spokesman added: “The Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department has a large female customer base.
“The decision to improve services for female customers is a testament to our eagerness to further professional excellence in providing services to the diverse segments of society.”
Dubai - Death plummet
Dubai - Sep. 26: Two men, one British and one Egyptian, were convicted yesterday for wrongfully causing the death of two labourers at construction site near Dubai Marina. They both received a one-month prison sentence and were fined dhs500 each.
The Court of Appeal in Dubai was told that two Indian labourers were killed as they plummeted more than 60 metres to the ground following an accident at their work site. The men had been in a cradle carrying them to the top of a building when a cement block fell from a crane and severed the cables securing the cradle at around the 18th floor.
Both men died instantly from massive injuries. An eyewitness told the court that although they alerted police and ambulances to the scene, nothing could be done for either man. A safety expert who testified to the court said the labourers had not been wearing safety harnesses at the time of the accident which may have prevented their deaths.
One of the men convicted yesterday is a British safety director for a construction company while the Egyptian convicted alongside him was the labourer’s supervisor, the court was told. The men were originally cleared of the offence at the Court of First Instance.
Both of the men found guilty in court were also ordered to pay dhs120,000 each to the relatives of the dead men.
Burglars hit Rolla supermarket
DUBAI - SEP. 26: BURGLARS hit third time in as many months in the Rolla area of Sharjah in the early hours of Monday.
An ATM booth operated by Mashreq Bank at Al Manama Supermarket building in Rolla has become the latest target of burglars who gained access to it by breaking open the toilet window of the building housing the supermarket. They, however, failed to crack the machine but got away with Dhs80,000 and several credit cards from the supermarket's cash safe.
One of the two Mashreq Bank technicians who were present at the site told The Gulf Today that "the robbers seem to be unfit to do the job and do not know what they were doing."
"Our head office and the police would have been alerted if the machine handling the money would have been touched or manipulated. This did not happen. That means the culprits were not able to enter into our system and loot the money. We apparently had no losses," one of the technicians said without revealing his identity.
Sharjah Police were not available for comment." We informed them (the police) before 8:30 am on Monday and the police arrived after 11:45 am," an employee of the supermarket said.
Police officials started reaching the site after 11:45 am, until which customers were denied access to the supermarket. The supermarket later opened around 12:30pm and customers started pouring in without knowing what exactly happened.
"Burglars, in other similar incidents, used the first floor of the supermarket to break in. This time also they used the same technique, but failed to reach their target," another employee of the supermarket said.
Another employee said the burglars this time also tried to cut open the lockers, but failed even after using some kind of sharp saw. "They tried to cut open few of our strong lockers," he added.
Besides the loss of cash and credit cards from the safe, some structural damages were also caused to the building and the cabinet housing the ATM machine.
In an earlier incident on July 5 this year, the supermarket's outlet in Rolla's busiest Al Orouba Street was burgled. The robbery took place after the supermarket closed at 1:20am on Thursday, July 5.
The latest burglary attempt was suspected to have happened in the early hours on Monday as shops close late at night during Ramadan.
In another incident of robbery in Rolla, a restaurant manager was attacked on the head from behind and was robbed of his entire day's collection which amounts to a few thousand dirhams, sources said. This incident happened a couple of days ago near Woodlands Restaurant in Rolla, sources added.
Last week, a passenger was robbed off his money from the street behind Burj 2000 building, in the same area.
Young gangsters were said to be behind the lootings at late hours in busy Rolla and its neighbourhood.
Thugs broke the glass panes of a small grocery shop on Al Orouba Street. Confirming the recent incident, the shop keeper told The Gulf Today that the stone throwing was apparently to ensure no one was inside the shop before breaking in.
It, however, remains a mystery that most of such cases were not reported to the police. "We do not want more trouble," one salesman said when encountered with the question of complaining to the police.
Other small groceries, especially located behind buildings facing main roads, are now said to be taking precautionary measurers such as installing iron grills, after the burglary news spread.
Shopkeepers said they would request for more night patrols in the main streets as well as the interior roads of Rolla to protect the interests of the residents and businesses.
Families contact Indian consulate
DUBAI - SEP. 26:WORRIED families of the crew members of the missing cargo vessel MV Infinity Marine 1 are contacting Indian Consulate in Dubai in a desperate bid to find out whereabouts of their loved ones as mystery continues to shroud the fate of the vessel which set sail from Fujairah on June 26 to go to Somalia with 21 crew members on board.
Ashish Phanse, father of one of the crew members sent a letter to Indian Consulate seeking information about his son. "Before he left, my son said that he would not be contacting us for the next two months as making a phone call from Somalia would be difficult. He asked us not to worry and wait for his return. However, we are worried about his safety specially after we heard that the vessel is missing," said Phanse speaking to the Gulf Today over phone from Mumbai.
Phanse's only son 21 year old Chinmay was on board of the vessel along with 20 other crew members including 14 Indians, five Pakistanis and one Bangladeshi.
"It's shocking that no one knows what happened to the ship. Even the owner Fida Hussain is in dark about the fate of the ship. I only pray that my son is alive," added Phanse.
The Panama-flagged cargo vessel was sailing to Mogadishu carrying general cargo including food stuffs, machinery and light vehicles when it went missing some 37 nautical miles off the northeastern village of Ras Hafun near Somalia on June 26. It made a distress call to a French naval vessel before disappearing.
Meanwhile, International Maritime Organisation which is investigating the sudden disappearance of the vessel said that the incident is being studied from various angles.
"It is difficult to come to a conclusion unless we know about the condition of the ship before it set sail from the UAE," said Cyrus Modi, Senior Analyst with the IMO based in United Kingdom.